It is like there is a thin line between man and other animals and then other living things – and one of such differences is “the right to life” as there’s no consensus on the question of what makes us special, or whether we even are though the biggest point of contention is whether our cognitive abilities differ from those of other animals “in kind,” or merely in degree. According to Wikipedia, “The right to life is a moral principle based on the belief that a human being has the right to live and, in particular, should not be killed by another human being.” Every person is entitled to the fundamental right to life, simply by the fact of being human. Along with other rights, the right to life is meant to protect us against people who might want to harm or hurt us. They are also meant to help us get along with each other and live in peace. However, when human rights are not well known, abuses such as discrimination, intolerance, injustice, oppression, slavery and killing can arise – and it becomes more worrisome when such brazen acts are being aided and sponsored for one selfish reason or another.
A look at the background of human rights reveals that originally, people had rights only because of their membership in a group, such as a family. Then, in 539 BC, Cyrus the Great, after conquering the city of Babylon, did something totally unexpected—he freed all slaves to return home. Moreover, he declared people should choose their own religion. The Cyrus Cylinder, a clay tablet containing his statements, is the first human rights declaration in history. Thereafter, the idea of human rights spread quickly to India, Greece and eventually Rome. The most important advances since then have included:
1215: The Magna Carta—gave people new rights and made the king subject to the law.
1628: The Petition of Right—set out the rights of the people.
1776: The United States Declaration of Independence—proclaimed the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
1789: The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen—a document of France, stating that all citizens are equal under the law.
1948: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the first document listing the 30 rights to which everyone is entitled.”
Commenting on where Universal Rights begin, Eleanor Roosevelt, wrote, “In small places, close to home—so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”
In other words, the right to life means that nobody, including the government, can unjustly try to end one’s life. It also means the government should take appropriate measures to safeguard life by making laws to protect one and, in some circumstances, by taking steps to protect one if one’s life is at risk.
Therefore, there must be continuous effort to advance the recognition and sustenance of human dignity, particularly through consistent protection for the right to life of every human being from conception to natural death. But this is not the case in the world, our country, our states, our homes now.
Nigeria today, we have countless cases of killings, ranging from terrorism, insurgency, capital punishment, wars, abortion, euthanasia, homicide, manslaughter, unlawful arrests and detentions amongst others whose acts often bring out the beast in us. Instead of toeing the path of civility, we walk on the pedestrian of primitivity because we are divided at hearts such that every little opportunity feed our flame of divisive destruction.
Monsters grow when reason sleeps and with the growth comes the display of crudity and every form of animalistic tendencies, the end of which leaves a sorrow sight with painful memory, experience.
From generation to generation, human beings have put up with endless cases of evil and wickedness that have actually questioned the true essence of existence. Certain events have put big question marks to our corporate and individual beliefs and brought out the irrational side of our personality. Our sense of reason has often portrayed the weak points of our life that while we court longevity, eternity, some of us don’t waste time to cut life out of others – we can even kill for a kobo, for sex or other flimsy and irrational excuses!
What on earth can justify the gruesome murder of man by his fellow man in ways that reduce us to the lowest level of bestiality that through deliberate amputation of limbs, ankles and elbows one would watch and allow the victim bleed into shock before death? Why should someone tie his fellow human being and chop of his head like a Christmas goat? How can people choose to be suicide bombers and even take away their own lives while killing others? Whatever the case, it is the height of evil, wickedness to take someone else’s life!
Having seen the level of inhumanity against humans in our clime, and knowing fully well that only the living can talk of peaceful coexistence, it becomes very imperative to resort to self-help for survival, and self-defense for self-preservation in the face of brutal, deadly attack! It has been argued that it is not good to stop war with another war but when pushed to the wall to be slaughtered, what will you do? It is good to err on the side of caution than to be exterminated defenselessly by idiots that derive joy in killing others. There is no alternative to life so hold it dear and defend it at all cost through coordinated efforts that resist and destroy every act of barbarism.
If the target of destruction and murder are slow to develop a sense of defense, they would be wasted and wiped out of the surface of the earth within seconds. Therefore, there must be unity against every form of inhumanity – insurgency, terrorism, massacre, xenophobia, genocide, politically and religiously motivated killings… There is urgent need to expand the security network with emphasis on community/state policing. Yes, more than ever before, now is the time for radical security consciousness. Let us get committed to an evidence-based approach to the issues, uniting people from different philosophical beliefs, economic pursuits and political ideologies in affirming what all individuals of good will recognize – the justice and necessity of protecting the most basic rights of every member of the human family. We must also educate ourselves about life issues and then educate our community – and the earlier this is done, the better for all to erase every form of false belief associated with mischief.